Thai police have ruled out malicious intent on Saturday in the shocking death of Australian cricket superstar Shane Warne, who died of a suspected heart attack while on holiday on the island paradise of Koh Samui, aged just 52.
The ‘king’ of Spin’s death sparked a worldwide outpouring of grief from prime ministers, rock stars and fellow players, a recognition that the Melbourne native transcended his sport.
Warne – one of the greatest Test cricketers of all time – was found unresponsive Friday night at his luxury villa in the resort of Samujana.
He was said to be meeting friends who went looking for him when he failed to leave his quarters.
“Despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived,” said a statement from his management company.
His body was taken to Thai International Hospital Samui around 6:00 PM local time
“Based on our investigation, no malicious intent was suspected at the scene,” Thai police told AFP.
When Australia woke up to the news on Saturday, fans laid flowers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where there is a statue honoring Warne.
Among the other offerings were a can of beer, a pack of cigarettes and a meat pie – a nod to Warne’s famously hard lifestyle and unathletic diet.
Warne was so loved in his native Melbourne that the state government said the Great Southern Stand at the MCG will be renamed the SK Warne Stand.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Warne “one of our country’s greatest characters” and announced he would be given a full state funeral.
In a touching tribute, Morrison praised him as an inspiration to backyard cricketers across the country and someone who lit up every Australian summer.
“His achievements were the product of his talent, his discipline and passion for the game he loved. But Shane was more than this for Australians,” said Morrison.
Current players – who have paid emotional tributes to their childhood hero – took to the field for the second day of a test match against Pakistan in Rawalpindi, with both sides observing a minute’s silence and wearing black armbands.
Credited for reviving the art of leg spin, Warne was part of a dominant Australian test team in the 1990s and 2000s, helping his country win the 1999 limited-overs World Cup.
A larger-than-life character, his total of 708 Test wickets has only been surpassed by fellow spinner Muttiah Muralitharan
Australian captain Pat Cummins said he was “a hero” to today’s generation of cricketers.
“The loss we are all trying to deal with is enormous,” he said in a video message.
Warne’s invaluable impact was reflected in his inclusion in a list of the Wisden Cricketers of the 20th century, alongside Don Bradman, Garfield Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Viv Richards.
West Indian great Richards said he was “shocked to the bone”.
“There are no words to describe what I’m feeling right now,” he tweeted.
Warne came on the scene as a brash young player with a head of blond hair and became known almost as much for his colorful life away from cricket as for his exploits on the pitch.
Both he and his Australian teammate Mark Waugh were fined for accepting money from a bookmaker and Warne was banned for 12 months after failing a drug test on the eve of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa after taking a diuretic. taken.
Warne was the first bowler to take 700 Test wickets using an assortment of leg breaks, googlies, flippers and his own zooters, Warne retired from Australian service in 2007 after a 5-0 series win at home against arch-rivals England.
He played a total of 145 Tests over a 15-year career, taking 708 wickets and was also a useful lower order batsman, with a highest Test score of 99.
In addition to his international achievements, Warne also enjoyed a successful career with his Australian state Victoria and England’s county team Hampshire.
Following his international retirement, Warne continued to shine in the Twenty20 franchise circuit, appearing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League and his hometown Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League.
He went on to become a highly regarded television commentator and pundit, known for his candid opinions, and was involved in coaching, working individually with contemporary leg spinners.
Warne was divorced from his wife Simone Callahan, with whom he had three children. He also had a high profile relationship with British actress Liz Hurley.
Indian batter Sachin Tendulkar wrote on Twitter of his ex-rival: “Shocked, stunned and miserable… Will miss you Warnie. There was never a dull moment with you around.”
Former Australian teammate Adam Gilchrist said he was “stunned” and his death also caught the attention of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, a huge cricket fan, who said he was “so sad”.
“He brought so much fun into the game and was the best spin bowler ever,” said Jagger, while fellow superstar singer Ed Sheeran called him “such an amazing friend.”
“I’ll fucking miss you mate,” Sheeran said, with Australian Hollywood royalty Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman also paying tribute.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “completely shocked” and called Warne “a cricketing genius and one of the nicest guys you could meet, who also did a lot to help underprivileged children into the sport”.